“Find your creative outlet and plug into it. Otherwise, you may just short-circuit.” Giuseppe Bianco
We all need a creative outlet. Maybe it’s to escape our day jobs, to live out a passion, to express ourselves, or to help us get through a major life event. Or maybe it’s a combination of them.
My outlet has always been painting. Specifically, estate portraits. But recently I’ve been experimenting with abstract painting and I am absolutely loving it.
Painting isn’t a weekly or even monthly hobby for me; it’s something I do when the inspiration and motivation strikes. I’ll lose my desire to do it if it becomes a responsibility or a chore. But I recently went through a pretty big life change and my feelings were just begging to be poured out on canvas.
I knew I wanted to create a large abstract piece to go above my bed – it’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while. Lately I’ve been following some artists on Instagram who make great use of vibrant color (links to their profiles and websites at the bottom), and as this artistic urge grew I knew that that color was the kind of expression I needed.
So I set paintbrush (and palette knife and paper towel and water and fingers) to canvas. Over the course of a week I created something in a style that I had never done successfully before. Something that is deeply meaningful to me and that I love.
The colors reflect sorrow, brightness, optimism, movement, and all the things that I’ve been feeling the last few weeks.
I call it “What’s Next” because when I think about the future, what I see is radiant color. This painting is a reflection of how I’ve been feeling and a projection of the possibility of what’s to come. I hope that whenever I lose my sense of optimism, I can look at this and be reminded of the beauty of the unknown.
I spent some extra time documenting the painting in its various stages so I could share the process with all of you. I cannot claim to have any kind of technique, I just did whatever felt good and balanced. That’s the beauty of abstract painting – it can be whatever you want it to be, and you don’t have to be formally trained to do it (though I have been painting on the side for years).
Tell me in the comments: what is your creative outlet or escape?
The Process, Deconstructed
First, I wanted to have layers of soft color in the background. To do that, I wet the canvas and added a lot of water to my paint. I spread it first with a brush in haphazard strokes, then created some texture and lines with a palette knife, and lastly smoothed it over with a paper towel.
Second, I began adding color. I wanted it to reflect the whole rainbow, but to have a warm feeling overall. I settled on pinks, oranges and golds as my primary colors with pops of blues and purples and greens to balance it (so, yes, the entire rainbow).
After that I began to try to layer in dimension. Put unexpected colors on top of one another, create lines, add movement. Honestly, this was the most unplanned part of the entire piece. I just put colors where I thought they might look good, and experimented with layers and different techniques. I painted over whatever didn’t go well.
At this point I knew it needed something badly, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. It was so bland like this, just a mishmash of colors.
Finally I decided to add a little color around the edges. Specifically, yellow.
It made all the difference. The layers of blue didn’t hurt either.
Next, I layered in the light pink and the white on top of the blue. I also added some green to the upper right. Again, no real rhyme or reason, just what felt right at the time.
And the next thing I knew, after adding some pops metallic gold, it was done. Truthfully, though, I don’t know if this piece will ever be finished. I’ll probably keep tinkering with it until I encase it forever in a layer of shiny resin. But despite its flaws and what I see it lacking, I am so happy with it because it has personality and brightness and movement and color. It’s unique and it’s exactly what I set out to create. There’s probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere, but I’ll let you interpret it yourself.
Artists who inspire me that you should check out/follow:
- Brittany Lee Howard | Instagram <– this girl has incredible talent. I would say I strive to paint on the same level as her, if that were remotely possible. She is in her own league.
- Chad Schoon | Instagram **note that some proceeds from sales will go back to Baton Rouge flooding victims (he himself was one)
- Amira Rahim | Instagram